Plastic is an unavoidable part of modern life. It plays an essential role in the construction of our vehicles, work equipment, computers, mobile devices, children’s toys, apparel, and nearly everything we use daily, including food packaging and storage containers.
While this substance is easy to spot in items like water bottles and food wrappers, it hides in a surprising number of other products, posing serious risks to both human health and the health of the planet.
REASONS TO AVOID PLASTIC
The average person ingests thousands of microplastic particles every week. One 2019 study found that globally the average person consumes 5 grams of plastic every week.  That’s the equivalent of eating a credit card!
Increasing research reveals the toxic compounds found in plastic contribute to health problems ranging from cancer to infertility.  Hundreds of studies show potential health dangers, including abnormal development of the brain and reproductive organs in babies exposed to toxic compounds from plastic in utero.   BPA and phthalates, both found in plastic, are endocrine disruptors that interfere with the production and regulation of hormones. 
Concern over plastic pollution in our oceans is also growing. Over 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean yearly, threatening sea life and the symbiotic relationship between sea and land.  The ocean supplies more than 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe thanks to the activity of phytoplankton. The toxic burden on marine environments seriously threatens this oxygen production.
According to researchers at the Center for International and Environmental Law, plastic poses risks to human health at every stage of its lifecycle – from production to use. These risks come from exposure to the plastic particles and various chemicals associated with it. They also point out that the prevalence of plastic amounts to a global health crisis hiding right under our noses. 
HIDDEN SOURCES OF PLASTIC
Nearly 300 million tons of plastic are produced annually to meet global product demand. Some of this plastic makes its way into products you may not expect, including:
- Cash register receipts: In 2022, Ecology Center did a follow-up study on one in 2018 that found many receipts lined with BPA. This common plastic ingredient is a known toxin. The 2022 study confirmed that, while the percentage of receipts with BPA in them had decreased, 80% still had BPA or BPS.  The Environmental Working Group, which found the same in 2010, warns that this delicate type of plastic can enter your body through your skin or the food you touch and eat. 
- Canned foods: A 2020 study found BPA in the lining of 10% of canned foods.  Many manufacturers now use BPA-free cans in food production. Still, it’s important to note that BPA-free does not equal toxin-free. Other chemicals and heavy metals can still be present.
- Cosmetics: Polyethylene and acrylates copolymer are two of the most used microplastics in cosmetic products like mascara, eyeliner, lipstick, powder, foundation, cleanser, and facial scrub.  Microplastics are tiny plastics added to products for their textural properties. Due to the size of these plastics, they readily absorb into the skin.
- Tea bags: Up to 95 percent of tea bags may contain plastic. If the bag is sealed or crimped, it will have plastic in the sealant. Steeping tea in hot water will cause the chemicals in the plastic to leach into the tea. 
- Salt: Research has revealed the presence of microplastics in nearly 90 percent of table salt brands available worldwide.  As the environment is increasingly polluted with plastic, it’s no surprise that microplastics now appear in naturally sourced resources like salt.
Reducing your plastic use is smart for your and the planet’s health. Take these steps to avoid plastics and hidden plastics:
- Research your cosmetics to learn which ingredients make up your frequently used products. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database is an excellent tool.
- Opt for glass storage containers for any consumable product, including food, homemade body butter, toothpaste, etc.
- When grocery shopping, choose items sold in glass containers whenever possible. To avoid the accumulation of plastic condiment containers like ketchup and salad dressing bottles, consider making your own condiments and storing them in reusable glass jars.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after handling receipts (or opt for no receipt at checkout).
- Minimize the use of canned foods in your diet. When you do eat canned foods, choose organic products labeled BPA-free.
- Use a high-quality salt in your cooking. Learn more about salt’s many benefits and our favorite high-quality brand here.
- Choose loose-leaf tea that you can steep and strain yourself. Reusable mesh tea bags or stainless-steel tea baskets are convenient options to use at home.
WE’RE HERE TO HELP!
At The Wellness Way, we specialize in guiding our patients to their most vibrant health, often through customized detoxes carefully monitored by our doctors. A guided detox can help reduce the burden placed on individuals by various toxic influences, including exposure to heavy metals or plastics, vaccine injuries, food allergies, medications, and more. Our skilled practitioners go beyond symptom-based care and address our patients’ unique physiology in ways that facilitate a return to total body wellness. Reach out to a clinic near you to learn how we can support you on your journey to restore health!
- WWF: No Plastic in Nature
- The Minderoo-Monaco Commission on Plastics and Human Health: Annals of Global Health
- The plastic brain: neurotoxicity of micro- and nanoplastics: PubMed
- Public health impact of plastics: An overview: PubMed
- Harvard School of Public Health: Plastic: Danger Where We Least Expect It
- Plastic Oceans: Education and Discussion Guide
- CIEL: Plastic and Health
- Receipt Deceit: Toxic Chemicals in Receipt Paper: Ecology Center
- EWG: BPA Coats Cash Register Receipts
- What is BPA? The dangerous chemical found in 10% of canned foods: Insider
- Beat the Microbead: Get to Know Plastics in Cosmetics
- Are Your Tea Bags Toxic? Bottom Line Inc
- National Geographic: Microplastics Found in 90 Percent of Table Salt